If people thought the craft beer bubble had popped, two beer aficionados and entrepreneurs from Cornwall, have just proved them wrong.
Alan Westaway and James Mills took over the Red Elephant beer shop in Truro in April 2021, a few weeks before the third lockdown for the hospitality sector came to an end, and business has boomed ever since.
Both are keen beer lovers and James who used to be a regular in the shop when it was located in Quay Street was even offered a job there while shopping before he teamed up with Alan to take the business over.
Now located at High Cross, just outside the entrance to Truro Cathedral, the shop is not only a haven for beer lovers who can sample some 200 beers from all over the world, but for those who want to delight in local fares and help support the wide range of Cornish brewers and craft beer makers safe in the knowledge that they are supporting local businesses.
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The Red Elephant is no longer just a small cramped bottled beer shop but has a trendy taproom that blends cool beers and arty photographs of Cornwall in a comfortable setting.
“I think the simple reason we took it over is that we both love beer,” Alan said. “The old shop was just too small. You couldn’t have a bar in there. But now we do and some of our regulars actually come all the way from Plymouth. It’s nice to have out of county regulars and see them make a day of it.”
Alan and James believe the new setting and the wide range of craft beers not just from the Duchy but from all over the world, with beers being rotated regularly, makes the whole customer experience so much better.
“All summer we had people who came down on holidays and visited us on their way down or on their way back and then ordered online at home,” Alan said. “There is a lot of nostalgia with beer and also so much choice. I think people are fed up with traditional ales. You can get any traditional ale or lager in any supermarket but craft beers offer so many different flavours. Our idea is to have constantly changing beers so there is always something new to try.”
The pair believe that the interest in craft beers has certainly not abated, powered largely by a change in eating and drinking habits.
James said: “People are certainly more knowledgeable about ingredients, provenance and would rather sip one tasty beer or two with their friends rather than quaff 10 pints just to get drunk. It’s all about quality over quantity nowadays.”
Since taking over and reopening the Red Elephant Beer Cellar a few streets away, business has been booming, something James and Alan hope will continue into 2022.
“Craft beer is definitely still growing,” Alan said. “Everyone thought that the bubble for it had burst but it keeps growing. There is so much demand for it. People want new flavours. New tastes. It’s about the experience.”
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